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Take a look at Elite Gymnastics

Have you ever wondered about elite gymnastics? What it takes to become an elite gymnast, or what being an “elite” means exactly?!

Elite gymnastics draws most people into the gymnastics world. We see elite gymnasts on TV at big competitions; the American Classic, the American Cup, US Classic, World Championships, The Olympic Games…. watching elite gymnastics looks so elegant through our television screens. The girls are so strong, so determined, and very nearly defy gravity. It makes us want to be able to do the same!

For me, it was the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA that made me fall in love with gymnastics.
I watched the Magnificent Seven win the USA’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the team competition. I was awestruck by Shannon Miller leading the team to gold through that strong and steady compulsory beam set. I wanted to be exactly like tiny Dominique Moceanu, who went on to become the youngest female Olympic gymnast in history. And then, when Kerri Strug stuck her second vault on one-foot, solidifying team USA’s gold medal, I cut all my hair off just like hers in an effort to be just like Kerri.

It would be fair to say that elite gymnasts are some of the best athletes in the entire world. They’re strong, flexible, and fast. Becoming an elite gymnast takes years and years of hard work, coupled with a strong family support-system, the right coaches and the right mindset. Female athletes who are training for elite often workout twice per day, some homeschool, and all put their training over other extra-curricular activities.

Deciding to go the elite route is a decision coaches and gymnasts make together. In each gym, the elite path will look slightly different. Often, girls who compete in TOPS and/or HOPES train to become elites. This route is more black and white in that once you compete in TOPS, you have the opportunity to qualify to National Testing and from there possibly get invited to Developmental Camps. Training for TOPS and HOPES gives gymnasts a glance into the elite world from an earlier age.

However, it’s not required that gymnasts go through the TOPS or HOPES programs before trying to qualify elite. In order to have “elite gymnast” next to their name an aspiring elite must first receive her compulsory and then optional qualifying scores at an Elite Compulsory Qualifier competition and they at a National Qualifier. These scores allow her to compete at the American Championships, where the junior and senior elite gymnasts are chosen each year.

To best guage the requirements and qualifying score see the most recent Elite Qualification Chart here.

Each year USAG takes into consideration the sports needs and the quad requirements per Olympic cycle and base the number of elites each year on those factors. The National Team can be as large as 20 gymnasts.

National Team members aspire to be picked for big competitions like the Maccabiah Games, the American Cup or maybe even World Championships. Each month elite team members attend a National Training Camp to train with USAG’s Elite staff and build unity with their fellow elite team members. Here they showcase their skills and readiness in an effort to be chosen for an elite assignment.

Elite is a great route to go but it’s not for everyone. There are wonderful opportunities in both JO and Xcel for athletes with different goals in mind. Whichever route you go, we're rooting for YOU and we're here for all of your gymnastics leotard needs!


For more information on the elite rules visit: